Feel Free To Think

I’m sitting here staring at my own title with ironic amusement.  I know what I want to say.  I just can’t seem to marshal my thoughts to say it clearly and tactfully.  Well, that’s the beauty of electronic editing, I can always change it.  Here goes.

I took the daughter to another meeting of the Free Thinkers Society.  It is possible to be a free-thinker and still be a Christian, although many “Good Christians” and all “Good Catholics” will deny that.  Free Thinkers, atheists, agnostics and *science* don’t wish to be enemies of Christianity, but they are all thinkers, and Catholicism in particular, denies the right to think for yourself.  I commented to my *recovering Catholic* wife, one time, about reading a Bible passage when she was a child, and was astounded to find that Good Catholics are not permitted to read the Bible.  They might *misinterpret* it.  They had to wait for a priest to tell them what it meant.

With the Catholic Church at the top of the list, all Christian denominations present their particular set of views, as a monolithic whole, indivisible, and unquestionable.  The Catholic Church rails against “supermarket religion”, and says that its followers can’t pick and choose what they will and will not believe.  Yet the same church picked and chose among divinely inspired gospels, written at the same time, by the same group of holy people, and found among the same scrolls.  The Church included in the Bible the ones which solidified their position and ignored the ones which did them no good.

The Catholic Church changes its dogma from time period to time period, and from place to place, yet its followers are expected to believe that it remains uniform.  I worked with a young woman who was the child of an English Catholic couple who had moved to Canada.  In England, when a child was taken in to be baptised, any name could be chosen. 

They had picked the name Lynne for her, but the priest demanded to know what saint’s name they had chosen.  He told them he could not baptise a child without a saint’s name.  He told them that they could pick any holy name except Jesus or Madonna.  Under time pressure, they chose Virginia, after the Virgin Mary.  Every third Latino is named Jesus (hay-sues), and the Detroit Madonna is still trying to keep British riff-raff from walking through her back yard.  The British Catholic rules are not observed in Canada, and Canadian Catholic rules are not obeyed in the US, or south of its borders.

It is said that some people believe they’re thinking, when all they are doing is rearranging their prejudices.  A recent column in the local paper would be amusing, if the writer wasn’t so darned serious.  He doesn’t say that he’s a vegetarian, just that he’s a member of Toronto Pig Save.  What he doesn’t say is as telling as what he does say. He wants to prevent pigs from being trucked and slaughtered at a large Toronto plant.  He plays the same language games that the churches play, and, to one who pays attention, sounds just as foolish.  He tries the *Own the Definition Gambit*, but fails, quickly and miserably.

He immediately stakes out the high ground by asking, “Is it moral to slaughter pigs just so we can have bacon?”  He quickly reckons that most Canadians would answer yes, to this.  “Moral” means actions or behavior based on right and wrong.  He would like most people to think his viewpoint is right, but morality in this case is subjective and the majority says he’s wrong.  I’m happy he’s got a hobby trying to save pigs, but he never mentions cows, steers, veal calves, turkeys or chickens.  Why so much heat about hogs, while ignoring the rest?

He writes about people from his group standing on the street, taking pictures and videos of pigs on their way to the slaughter-house.  He points out that the temperature one day was 36C (95F), and the trucks were not air-conditioned.  It would be illegal to leave a dog in a car on such a day – but a dog would be sealed in a car, whereas the pigs were in a trailer with airflow though many openings.  In fact, the pigs would be covered by the top of the trailer, and probably a lot cooler and more comfortable than the idiots out on the sidewalk taking pictures.

He feels the answer to his question above might change if the word pigs were changed to puppies.  Now he’s trying to play the *Define Cute* game.  Someone said that, if baby seals looked like lobsters, no-one would say a word when they were clubbed to death.  He says that pigs are notoriously smart, and have a habit of looking you in the eye – as if to say, “I know what you have in mind for me, and I’m disappointed in your lack of character.” He need have no such worry.  I’m sure even the pigs consider him quite a character, standing out in the sun, peering into passing trucks, in an attempt to change the millennia-old eating habits of the human race.

While I’m sure he wants to keep the pigs from being slaughtered, the main thrust of the article is their handling and transportation.  He complains a couple of times about the lack of air-conditioning.  How would he suggest they be delivered, one at a time, in limos?  That would stop people from eating pork.  It would drive the price as high as a communications satellite, with beef and chicken right behind it.

Do you want to be fed, or do you want to be Nice?  Here’s a nice tofu sandwich while you consider.  Pigs also provide ribs, roasts, stews and sausage.  Ignore that man behind the truck wheel.  Just click your heels twice and return to brunch.  He wrote a nice (there’s that word again.) little feel-good article.  I just don’t think that much thinking went into it.

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In Search Of Truth

Some people claim that they’re in search of truth.  Others don’t even bother to make the claim.  All too often, the impetus and the result are the same.  Most folks don’t want the truth.  As Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.”  What they really want, is for their opinions to be validated and for others to agree with them and make them feel good.  Even when the truth is presented to them, they keep denying it and pushing it away, because, that’s not what they want to see.

At my daughter’s housing complex, they’ve had some incidents occur which led the board to decide to install electronic security cameras, around the office area.  One of the cameras was to be trained on the children’s playground, right beside the office.  Most reasonable people would agree that, protection of the kids would be a good idea.  A secondary reason for that camera was that, one of the male teens from the complex, and two or three of his non-resident friends are thought to be climbing over the playground fence, and dropping out of sight into the tiny yard behind the office.  They’re probably smoking dope, and the camera can’t see them, but would provide evidence if a fire started, or damage was done.

A female living across the driveway high-jacked a board meeting last week.  She found out that the cameras were going up and started ranting about spying on the children and looking in her windows.  She went around to many of the residents and told them that they must attend the important meeting.  She just didn’t tell them what it was all about.  When most of them found out what the issue was, they shrugged and left.  One woman, who she thought would support her, stated that she felt the security was a good idea, especially for the kids.  That led to a loud, nasty confrontation.  Even when she was told that the cameras would only be turned on from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. and was offered to view the feed from the “offending” camera, she refused the offer, and continued her rant.  Purely coincidentally, the next day, the camera was damaged, when it wasn’t turned on.

In a minor grandstanding play, to seem as if he’s doing something when he’s really not, the Premier of Ontario instructed the Minister of Education, to order the individual boards of education, to facilitate the formation of gay/straight alliance groups in all high-schools.  The bullying of gays is a serious subject, but it is not the only aspect of school bullying, nor, perhaps, is it the most important facet of the problem.  It is, however, the one the Premier wants to champion.

The public school boards quietly, efficiently, obediently went along with the directive.  They know which way the wind is blowing, and when the photo-ops arrive, they want to be seen to be on the side of goodness and right.  The Catholic school boards, however, have been more of a problem.  Some of them are reluctantly willing to have the groups formed.  It’s just that they can’t have a name which includes the word gay.  They can have a mix of straights and gays.  They just can’t say they have gays in them.

The local Catholic board has still not got around to authorizing formation, largely due to one particular male board member.  He was interviewed by a reporter for the local paper to give his reasons for the foot-dragging.  His response was, that if these groups were allowed to form, they would just devolve into giant gay sex orgies.  That’s right, groups that would prevent bullying by ignorant, prejudiced individuals, are prevented from forming by an ignorant, prejudiced individual in a position of power.  It seems that someone might have pointed out his baseless, paranoid position, because the next sentence in his quote was, “Even if they don’t, there’ll be talk about perverted stuff, like anal and oral sex, and I don’t want my kids hearing about that kind of thing.”  Fine, then tell your kids not to join the groups that others wish to form.

The Catholic Church vs. Girl Scouts.  Over the past several years, there has been friction between the Church and tween girls.  The Church has, on several occasions, claimed that the organization supports birth control and abortion.  These charges have been vigorously denied.  Despite being shown that these charges are false, in several dioceses and instances, representatives of the Catholic Church continue to fling the same old mud.  Recently a Bishop in Indiana has called for denunciation of the group under the same baseless charges.  The attacks themselves are difficult enough to fend off and maintain dignity.  The membership of Girl Scouts has declined from 3.3 million, to 2.6 million young girls in America.

Many Girl Scout troops are currently using rooms in Catholic churches for meeting halls.  If The Church divorces them, (Oops!  Can’t say divorce and Catholic Church in the same sentence!) they will have to try to find alternative meeting places.  Also, a million of the girls left in troops are Catholic.  They will be forced to decide whether to leave their religion, or their uplifting group of friends.  I know which one I would choose, but then, I’m an old and greatly experienced curmudgeon.

It is sad that people like these, choose to practice and enforce their mindless dogma, rather than deal with imperfect, undesirable facts.  There’s an adage that, “If your cat has kittens in the barn, you can call them horses.  Just don’t try to ride them.”  These folks already have out the boots, spurs, Stetsons and lassoes, but it’s us they’re riding.  It’s time for us to tell them to get off our backs.